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E-M:/ Who needs facts?

Enviro-Mich message from anne.woiwode@sfsierra.sierraclub.org

In an Editorial about the forest fires in the west on Saturday Aug. 26, the 
Detroit News makes the astonishing statement that National Forests banned 
commercial timber sales in the 1940's.  Specifically, here are the 
sentences leading to this claim:

"In the `40s, the service created Smokey Bear, the shovel-clutching cartoon 
character, reminding Americans vacationing in national parks to leave no 
fire unsnuffed. It also banned commercial logging. All of this led to the 
uninhibited growth of highly inflammable brush." 

Then after revisiting one of their favorite "beat up the Clinton Admin" 
topics, the out of control controlled burn in New Mexico this year, they 
say "Thus, at this stage, the most cost-effective, safe and expeditious way 
of returning forests to ecologically healthy densities would be by allowing 
some commercial logging."

I ain't making it up -- here's the full story:


No question, they are right that Smokey is an unwitting participant in the 
conflagration brought about by an astonishing drought and fire suppression 
policies of the last 100 years.  However, as lots of folks I know who write 
comments on timber sales on National Forests everyday will attest, there 
are in fact still a lot of commercial timber sales on our National Forests 
today.  It certainly would have saved a lot of people time and effort 
commenting on timber sales over the last 50+ years if the News was right, 
and the McKinney Leach Bill to ban commercial harvest on National Forests 
would have been superfluous.  

I am increasingly astonished at just how unimportant simple facts seem to 
be to arguments about management of our forests. We heard the same baloney 
in the Legislature during the arguments over the timber mandate -- people 
who because of their jobs definitely know better claiming that there is no 
logging on National Forests today.  And the astonishing thing is, one visit 
to a website at most National Forests would show that, in fact, they 
continue to propose and carry off timber sales today.  

But unless the Detroit News has somehow reclassified its editorial pages as 
fiction (which a lot of folks might argue should have happened a long time 
ago) this editorial is way out of line.  

Anne Woiwode

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